This is the beginning of severe weather in West Michigan.

Do you have a plan of action for you and your family?

Well, that’s kind of a loaded question because nearly every type of severe weather requires a different plan.

Every early spring, we face our biggest risk not from thunderstorms or tornadoes, but river flooding.

With record snowfall levels and fast warming spring can make for problems, much like April 2013 in Grand Rapids. Floods can bring not only environmental issues like damage to homes, wash away bridges and complete roadways. But there is also a unseen danger since stagnant water can easily become contaminated and a health risk if you become in contact with it.

Jim Maczko, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids Office, came in and discussed some things the federal agency does to help keep you and others safe.

These are alerts which the National Weather Service puts out when severe weather is in the area:

Flash Flood or Flood Watch: Flash flooding or flooding is possible within the designated watch area; be alert.

Flash Flood or Flood Warning: Flash flooding or flooding has been reported or is imminent; take necessary precautions at once! Get to higher ground!

Thunderstorm Watch: Weather conditions that are favorable for severe thunderstorms. A watch can cover parts of a state or several states. Watch and prepare for severe weather and stay tuned to NOAA weather radio or local broadcasts on radion and television like 98.7 WFGR to know when warnings are issued.

Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather that has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings mean there is a serious threat to life and property to those in the path of the storm. Act now to find safe shelter! A warning can cover parts of counties or several counties in the path of danger.

Tornado Watch: Means that local weather conditions are favorable to produce a tornado. Keep yourself alert to changing conditions. A watch can cover parts of a state or several states. Watch and prepare for severe weather and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio to know when warnings are issued.

Tornado Warning: This means act now! Immediate danger looms. This means a tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar and there is a serious threat to life and property to those in the path of the tornado. Act now to find safe shelter! A warning can cover parts of counties or several counties in the path of danger.

Maczko will be appearing on Sunday Morning Townsquare at 6 a.m. EDT Sunday (March 29) to discuss severe weather warning advancements in technology and communications that the National Weather Service uses to help keep the public informed and safe. For instance, did you know some new cell phones have built-in warning systems that can apprise you of local weather hazards utilizing a built in global-positioning system (GPS).